Can Bloomberg’s money hack the election? Twitter moderators would disagree.
Twitter reportedly suspended 70 pro-Bloomberg accounts this past Friday for engaging in “platform manipulation.” For all of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s money and unorthodox media strategies, he can't seem to buy an authentic grassroots following. “We have taken enforcement action on a group of accounts for violating our rules against platform manipulation and spam,” a Twitter spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times.
The Times reportedly reviewed multiple posts across the platform, which the outlet said “used identical text, images, links and hashtags.” Many of the accounts were even “created only in the last two months.”
Twitter, after receiving an inquiry about this reported pattern, decided that these accounts had violated its “Platform Manipulation and Spam Policy.” The Twitter policy clearly states that “You can’t mislead others on Twitter by operating fake accounts,” before adding, “This includes using misleading account information to engage in spamming, abusive, or disruptive behavior.” This policy, according to The Times, was specifically placed in response to allegations of “Russian-sponsored troll networks” interfering in the 2016 election.
Bloomberg campaign spokeswoman Sabrina Singh denied these claims, according to CNN’s reporting. "We ask that all of our deputy field organizers identify themselves as working on behalf of the Mike Bloomberg 2020 campaign on their social media accounts," Singh said. "Through Outvote, content is shared by staffers and volunteers to their network of friends and family and was not intended to mislead anyone."
The Times summarized that “By sponsoring hundreds of new accounts that post copy-pasted content, Twitter said the campaign violated its rules against ‘creating multiple accounts to post duplicative content,’ ‘posting identical or substantially similar Tweets or hashtags from multiple accounts you operate’ and finally ‘coordinating with or compensating others to engage in artificial engagement or amplification, even if the people involved use only one account.’”
Bloomberg’s campaign, so far, has been a display of how far money coupled with cutting edge social media tactics can go. The Daily Beast alleged in early February that Bloomberg has been using Tribe, a talent pool of young “micro-influencers” described as social media stars with between “1,000 to 100,000 followers,” seemingly to make his presidential run look like it has grassroots youth support.